Following the order by the Governor of Ondo State, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, that herdsmen should vacate forest reserves across the state within seven days, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, has described the governor’s directive as a bold move.
Speaking exclusively to Saturday Telegraph, the Secretary General of Afenifere, Chief Sehinde Arogbofa, said the development would in no small measure checkmate the activities of criminals among the herdsmen.
Arogbofa, who said all Yorubas supported the governor’s stance on the issue, disclosed that Akeredolu had been consistent with his approach to tackling criminalities in the South-West, stressing that he deserved the support of everyone within the region.
He said: “Akeredolu is on the right path especially if the occupation of those places or any place in the state is inimical to the development of the state. Akeredolu as the Chief Security Officer (CSO) of the state can exercise this power.
“Akeredolu has shown himself to be a true Nigerian when he said that any of the herdsmen who want to stay in any part of the state must first register.“You can’t just come from nowhere to occupy somebody’s land without his authority. A desperate disease needs a desperate remedy.” Commenting further, he said: “The rate of kidnapping in the state is very embarrassing to the extent that one cannot leave one’s house without serious prayers to return home safely. Illegal people have virtually taken over our lands in the state.
“I must confess that the governor has felt concerned. Some of our traditional rulers had given out lands to people without authority, to people who they cannot trace and who are alleged to be suspicious characters, people coming from Niger Republic without legal rights.
“I think we have to credit Mr. Governor for saying that any land owners or traditional rulers caught plotting with these marauders or sell lands to them without authority would be seriously dealt with.
“It is also very disturbing that there are kidnappers in these forests and hideouts in our lands. My question has always been which land in Ondo has not got an owner? “I think we have to be more realistic with what is happening in the state and people have to cooperate with the government to reduce the rate of kidnapping and killing in the state. “While appreciating the governor, I will like to suggest what was done sometimes ago between Okene and Lokoja, some six or seven years ago, while kidnappers were hiding within the forest in the area.